Presented by Bowery Boston
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm
Tickets on sale now!
Tickets available at AXS.COM, or by phone at 855-482-2090. No service charge on tickets purchased in person at The Sinclair Box Office Wednesdays-Saturdays 12-7PM.
Please note: This show is open to all ages. Opening acts and set times are subject to change without notice. All sales are final unless a show is postponed or canceled. All bags larger than 12 inches x 12 inches, backpacks, professional cameras, video equipment, large bags, luggage and like articles are strictly prohibited from the venue. Please make sure necessary arrangements are made ahead of time. All patrons subject to search upon venue entry.
Travel can inspire in surprising ways: Kurt Vile discovered as much making his first record in three years, the eclectic and electrifying Bottle It In, which he recorded at various studios around the country over two very busy years, during sessions that usually punctuated the ends of long tours or family road trips. Every song, whether it’s a concise and catchy pop composition or a sprawling guitar epic, becomes a journey unto itself, taking unexpected detours, circuitous melodic avenues, or open-highway solos. If Vile has become something of a rock guitar god—a mantle he would dismiss out of humility but also out of a desire to keep getting better, to continue absorbing new music, new sounds, new ideas—it’s due to his precise, witty playing style, which turns every riff and rhythm into points on a map and takes the scenic route from one to the next.
Using past albums as points of departure, Bottle It In heads off in new directions, pushing at the edges of the map into unexplored territory: Here be monster jams. These songs show an artist who is still evolving and growing: a songwriter who, like his hero John Prine, can make you laugh and break your heart, often in the same line, as well as a vocalist who essentially rewrites those songs whenever he sings them in his wise, laconic jive-talkin’ drawl. He revels in the minutiae of the music—not simply incorporating new instruments but emphasizing how they interact with his guitar and voice, how the glockenspiel evokes cirrocumulus clouds on “Hysteria,” how Kim Gordon’s “acoustic guitar distortion” (her term) engulfs everything at the end of “Mutinies,” how the banjo curls around his guitar lines and backing vocals from Lucius to lend a high-lonesome aura to “Come Again.”
These journeys took Vile more than two years to navigate, during which time he toured behind his breakout 2015 album b’lieve I’m goin’ down, recorded a duets album with Australian singer-songwriter-guitarist Courtney Barnett, opened for Neil Young in front of 90,000 people in Quebec, famously became a clue on Jeopardy, hung out with friends, took vacations with his wife and daughters. “I’ve been bouncing around a lot and recording all over. My family would meet me in the middle of America, and we’d go on a road trip somewhere. I would record in between all that stuff.”
Let’s start in Philadelphia, Vile’s hometown and a perennial inspiration. The first song recorded for Bottle It In became the album’s opener: A quintessential Violators tune featuring longtime band members Jesse Trbovich, Rob Laakso and Kyle Spence, “Loading Zones” is a paean to the City of Brotherly Love as well as an explication of his peculiar parking strategy. “I park for free!” he and the Violators all proclaim, proudly and defiantly, as he moves his car from one loading zone to another, always avoiding meter fare and parking tickets. The song dates back to the b’lieve sessions, but it took Vile a while to figure out how to put the song across. “It ended up feeling too weird for the last record, and I’m glad I waited because it had to grow into a guitar jam. I don’t think I was ready for the swagger it took to deliver such a ridiculous concept. It’s about owning your own town. It’s about knowing a place like the back of your hand.” And if that curious guitar tone—the one that sounds like a distorted voice, sounds familiar, it’s because Vile used the same kind of pedal that his friends/idols Sonic Youth used on 1995’s “The Diamond Sea,” which at 27 minutes is roughly the amount of time Vile can leave his car in one Philly loading zone. Coincidence?
From there Vile headed west. In April 2017, he trekked out to Indio, California, to catch the Stagecoach Festival and sit in with his friends the Sadies (“my favorite modern band”). Inspired by Willie Nelson’s epic set, Vile spent a few days in Los Angeles working with producer Rob Schnapf at his Mant Sounds studio. “He does these really cool pop things, weird versions of pop songs,” says Vile of Schnapf, who has produced albums for Beck, Elliott Smith, and Guided by Voices, among many others. The two had previously worked together on “Pretty Pimpin,” the leadoff track on b’lieve that became a number-one AAA radio hit. Their second collaboration was similarly inspired: Featuring backing vocals from Cass McCombs, the eleven-minute title track is full of ominous bass rumbles, hazy-steady drumbeats from Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa, delicate harp stabs from Mary Lattimore, and what sounds like chewy distortion leaking out of a David Lynch flick. “I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen. I didn’t know ‘Bottle It In’ was going to be that long. It’s sort of like living something rather than having it all planned out. You have to go out there for the experience and the inspiration.”
Months later, when a lengthy Violators tour ended in Salt Lake City, Vile let the momentum carry him further west, where he recorded several more songs with engineer/producer Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, the War on Drugs) at The Beer Hole in Los Angeles. Another epic came out of that meeting, the loping “Bassackwards,” the album’s beating heart and Vile’s most compelling evocation of how he sees the world. “I was on the ground circa Planet Earth, but out of sorts,” he sings over a gently psychedelic bed of backmasked guitars. “But I snapped back, baby, just in time to jot it down.” Other songs were put to tape during sojourns to Portland, Oregon, and to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where fellow Violator Rob Laakso co-produced. The bulk of Bottle It In was bottled up at Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, Connecticut, with Peter Katis (Interpol, the National) engineering and producing. Bottle It In captures the spontaneity of these impromptu sessions, revealing Vile as a diligent and singularly determined musician.
These recordings are the destinations, but the journeys were just as important, whether they gave him time with his wife and kids or an opportunity to get some writing done. “For a while I was terrified of flying, so I would be listening to whatever country songs I was obsessed with. I’d have George Jones blasting in my ears. Or, I would be reading something about country music. Or, I would start writing songs in that flash of being afraid, being swallowed by life. I’m up there on a plane drinking wine because like everybody else I’m afraid to die. And I wrote ‘Hysteria’ up there.” That new song, with its woozy guitar fanfare, captures mid-flight queasiness well, as Vile daydreams about escaping the flight: “Stop this plane ‘cause I wanna get off,” he sings. “Pull over somewhere on the side of a cloud.”
Bottle It In is about place only insofar as it is about the people in those places: friends and family, bandmates and music heroes, colleagues and collaborators. There’s a lot of love in these big-hearted songs, a lot of warmth toward everyone in Vile’s orbit and even toward those whose paths he’s yet to cross. “Loved you all a long, long while,” he sings on “One-Trick Ponies.” “Looked down into a deep dark well, called all of your names.” The jangly country-rock tune serves as a valentine to… he won’t say, but he and Mozgawa and Farmer Dave Scher deliver a beautifully sympathetic sing-along chorus that invites every one of us one-trick ponies to join in.
As Vile prepares for another round of lengthy tours and countless shows, these songs should prove good company, reminders of the love and responsibility he has toward those he leaves at home and those he meets along the way. That makes the sentiments resonate more strongly and lends Bottle It In an emotional weight. “It’s like that moment on the airplane,” Vile says, “when you’re on your way somewhere and you have that burst of panic. When you’re terrified of dying, that’s when you want people to know you love them.”
Cate Le Bon
As sure as if it had been mapped in the stars, or written in a prophecy buried deep beneath the sands of the Marfa desert, a collaboration between Cate Le Bon and Bradford Cox was always something of an inevitability.
Fourth in Mexican Summer’s Myths EP series (and following previous tie-ups between Dev Hynes and Connan Mockasin, Ariel Pink and Weyes Blood, and Dungen and Woods), Myths 004 sees Le Bon and Cox — each a much-revered musical innovator in their own right — finally united.
For both artists, Myths 004 signals a change of tack: meticulousness thrown to the wind as spontaneous, jammy tales of firemen and 5p plastic bags, unbrushed hair and shoelessness and makeup-daubed landscapes — all miraculously written and recorded in just one week — roll effortlessly off their cuffs.
Though this EP materialises after two individual 2019 album campaigns — Le Bon’s Mercury-nominated fifth album Reward, and Cox’s eighth with his band Deerhunter, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? (which Le Bon co-produced) — the chronologies are tangled: Myths 004 is in fact a snapshot of the pair’s very first meeting. After years of admiring each other’s work from afar, Cox and Le Bon finally converged on Marfa, Texas in 2018, at Mexican Summer’s annual Marfa Myths music, visual art, and film festival.
“Marfa is an extraordinary town,” says Le Bon. “It feels like nothing else exists when you’re in it which is both comforting and unnerving.” In this otherworldly enclave, and with a band of frequent Cate Le Bon co-conspirators on hand to putty the gaps with drums, saxophone, percussion, keys, and additional guitar (Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint, Stephen Black of Sweet Baboo, Tim Presley of White Fence, and Samur Khouja), the EP was assembled whiplash-quick.
“Writing and recording in a week is a tall order — especially when such chemistry exists between all the musicians involved, and the possibilities are boundless,” Le Bon explains. “We committed ourselves to embracing the chaos, surrendering to all moments and moods that travelled through. It’s a crude holiday scrapbook shared by all involved, an amalgamation of the changes in mood and light that shaped the days.”
Indeed, Myths 004 is wondrous in its variety. On the opening song “Canto!,” Cox dons the ill-fitting leathers of an ageing biker and urges us to come ride with him, baby. He and Le Bon gaze into one another’s eyes with semi-serious sweetness as tough, wiry guitars stab through the romance.
Everything shrinks and softens on the EP’s sole single, the gently melancholic “Secretary,” as Le Bon and Cox spout verse over a mysterious percussive rhythm; perhaps made by miniature cymbals from a mantric parade, perhaps by someone rummaging in the cutlery drawer. Together, they combat the office humdrum of filing, answering the phone, and eating “the same old plastic lunch” with a surreal and beautiful daydream of “mascara brushed across the plains / all of the phone calls you made disconnected.”
Most freeform are the short instrumental interludes — the garage-y, hammily menacing “Companions in Misfortune,” could easily soundtrack a gang sauntering down an alleyway, whilst “Jericho” emulates a dog and a brass band falling down the stairs (with jazzy panache, thank you very much).
“Fireman” sees Le Bon and Cox cast themselves as postulating heroes, as in a flash of tongue-in-cheek, lyrical-comic wordplay, Cate sings “I am a fireman / putting out fires, man” and Bradford, in a low faux-macho drawl, rambles immodestly in the background about his fire-extinguishing prowess.
And final track “What Is She Wearing,” drips with cynicism, wit, and parody punk spirit as Le Bon lists universally relatable and not-so-nice, day-to-day shit: having to take the bins out, stepping in chewing gum, taking your jumper off when you’re wearing an ugly t-shirt underneath, finding dirt on the fork at a fancy restaurant, going to the supermarket and paying five pence for a plastic bag you don’t want. It wouldn’t be hard to believe that John Cale is sawing his bow across an electric guitar somewhere in the background as Le Bon lippily gripes: “I’m walking to get myself a croissant from the bakery / and everybody is looking at me as if I have committed a crime.”
But for all their twists and turns, Myths 004’s seven tracks sit perfectly alongside one another — each sounding simultaneously like a Bradford Cox song, and like a Cate Le Bon song. In the true spirit of collaboration, a feeling of sheer joy prevails, uniting the EP’s every shape, character, prang, plod and playful bite.